December 13, 2018

Wrestler Raven on His Podcast, Being a Hypnotist, and Not Having a Bar Mitzvah

Wrestler, Podcaster and Hypnotist Raven.

Few professional wrestlers have experienced the success or career longevity of Scott Levy, a man better known to millions of people as Raven. Beyond being a 39-time Hardcore Champion within the WWF (and WWE), Raven held championships within every other major American wrestling company. While Raven still makes appearances at fan events and wrestles at the occasional independent show, these days he is far more focused on non-wrestling projects.

Currently, Raven is the namesake of the weekly podcast known as “The Raven Effect.” Broadcast on the Jericho Network via Westwood One, “The Raven Effect” finds Raven showing off the comedic chops he has honed as a stand-up comic. Reportedly, Raven has also studied hypnosis and is currently working on a live show that melds together comedy and hypnosis.

Also coming up for Raven is a multi-show booking on the Chris Jericho Rock & Wrestling Rager. A cruise produced by Sixthman – a company that has also produced celebrity cruises for the likes of Kid Rock, 311 and Jon Bon Jovi – the almost-sold-out voyage will be hosted on the Norwegian Jade, setting sail from Miami on October 27.

Notably, Raven is also currently working with his old wrestling rival Diamond Dallas Page. As the founder of DDP YOGA – or “DDPY,” for short – Page has been known to help a lot of his peers from the wrestling world. Raven is the subject of an online web series called “We Can Rebuild You,” and fans can watch the former wrestling champion work hard at fixing his long-nagging injuries.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Raven by phone about “The Raven Effect,” DDPY, and what else is coming up for him. Below are some of the highlights from our chat.

 

Jewish Journal: How long did it take from the idea of “I should have a podcast” to doing one?

Raven: Before podcasting was big I started a video blog, and I didn’t know how to monetize it, so I just gave up after a while. I was doing it solo, and solo’s a pain in the ass. It’s more fun to do it with a friend. But since I wasn’t monetizing it, I couldn’t really ask any of my friends to lend their time. So I did that, then I kind of let it lapse after about six months.

Then podcasting got big, really big. I knew that I was onto something, but I was a day late and a short dollar short. (laughs) So once I realized there was money in it, it was, “How do I get myself involved?” My fame from wrestling has kind of… When I was in WCW, I was a big, big name. Then I was in TNA, lesser but a good name. Then I was doing independent shows and stuff, and by not being on TV, I didn’t feel I had the capital to get a show. Now, everybody and their mother has a podcast, but back then they didn’t. I didn’t feel I had the clout and I was lazy, anyway. “I’ll just wait until I can latch onto someone else.” (laughs)

Jericho was doing really well and I buzzed him. He said he didn’t really have the time to do a second one, but he’d think about it. Eventually, he decided to have his own [podcasting] network and he called me and said, “You want to be on it?” I said, “Sure.” It all worked in a sort of roundabout way, but if I would have been less lazy, and I could’ve figured out how to monetize my video blog, I could have gotten in on the ground floor. Before there was a ground floor, even.

I always wanted to talk radio, when I finished wrestling, but it’s a matter of getting a set-up. But I’m very, very lazy… (laughs) 

I had to find a partner. The first partner I picked was my buddy Johnny Swinger who’s funny, he’s funny in private but he’s not outgoing in a public arena. He was getting better at it, but it was taking away from his family time because it was an hour drive to me and then another hour back… Then I called one of my best friends, Chad Damiani, who I’d wanted to do it in the first place but he’d been too busy with screenwriting. I think now that knowing that we’re on the Jericho Network, that we’re definitely going to make money selling ads, and he also had a break in his schedule, so he agreed to do it. We’ve been going ever since it’s been over a year now.

JJ: Before you were podcasting, you were doing stand-up. Before becoming a wrestler, had you been considering a career as a stand-up comic?

R: No, because I could never write a joke. I was always funny in situations, but I could never write a joke, it’s two different animals. I was watching Jimmy Carr, this filthy, hilarious British comedian, and this joke just popped in my head. This 45-second bit just popped in my head and wrote itself. I then knew how to write bits, it just came to me out of the blue and stayed with me.

JJ: Nowadays do you see yourself as a podcaster or a comedian? I’ve heard you describe yourself as a “raconteur.” What’s your preferred way of being introduced?

R: Madman? No. (laughs) I’m also a hypnotist. I started learning hypnosis and now I’m working on a hypnosis stage show, comedy, and hypnosis. It’s amazing, hypnosis is completely real, I never believed it myself until I hypnotized people. Like that stuff they do on-stage, it’s totally real, its crazy.

JJ: Before you were describing yourself as being lazy, but it sounds like you do pursue a lot of things and stick with them.

R: I pursue them, but I don’t really pursue them hard. Wrestling, that’s all I ever wanted to do, more or less, and that was something I was really good at. I pursued it to the bitter end. But since then I haven’t had the passion for anything. So stand-up, as much as I enjoy doing it, I don’t have the passion to put in the time and the effort to improve past a certain point. I’m good enough to the point that I get laughs, I don’t bomb, I always do really well. It enabled me to be lazy again, but I also don’t take a whole lot of bookings because I don’t like to work very much. (laughs)

I like being semi-retired, I spent 30 years on the road. Now I like being at home. For what it’s worth, I used to prefer being on the road than being at home, the baggage I carried. I was more happy on the road than I was at home. But once I got used to being home, and I chased all my demons away and spent time on a therapist’s couch, I didn’t want to go on the road very much. I’ll work for six out of eight weekends, and then I’ll take off two or three months, and then I’ll do it again. I don’t pursue it that hard, although I’m going to pursue the stand-up more next year. Then I’m also going to start pursuing the hypnosis next year, and I’ll still do my wrestling personal appearances, and I’ll still do my podcast.

I’m content, that’s the best way I can describe it. I don’t have to chase anything. I don’t need to be a success anymore. I was already famous, been there, done that. If I get any more fame, great, if I don’t, it doesn’t bother me… I had the highest highs, the lowest lows. I did every drug imaginable and did them well to the point that I can’t do them anymore. (laughs) I was so good at it I had to retire. But I don’t have any interest in it either, I’m really lucky. My addictionologist said, “I don’t think you were truly an addict, but I’ve never seen anybody abuse drugs as bad as you.” (laughs) I’m lucky I don’t have to wake up every day saying, “Do I have a drink or not?” I have no interest in it. I’ve done it, checked off the box — I’m moving forward.

Now I just like living the easy life. I love doing the podcast, I could see doing it more days a week if we got an offer. By the same token, if I needed to do a full-time job, that’s what I’d want to do, I guess; some stand-up on the side. But I don’t need a full-time job, and nobody’s clamoring for it anyway… It all kind of worked out perfectly. I’m very very lucky and blessed.

JJ: Was it tough being Jewish back in your WCW heyday?

R: I’m not religious, my parents weren’t religious. It doesn’t affect me one way or another. I was probably one of the only Jews, not bar mitzvahed.

JJ: Was that by design? Or you had the choice?

R: I wanted the big pay-off, but my mom was like, “If you want the big payoff, you’ve got to go to Sunday school and study. It’s okay if you’re not religious because we’re not religious either. But if you’re going to be bar mitzvahed, at least go through the training.” I’m like, “Nah, not worth the money.”

JJ: I think that goes back to the old you that doesn’t want to do very much.

R: No, exactly. It wasn’t fun, I was addicted to fun. I could never be content because I always had to find a better party, a higher drug. I was notorious, I’d be at a club and go “Let’s go somewhere else.” “But we just got here.” “Someplace is better, somewhere else is better.” Everything had to be improved upon, better. You can never be content when you’re like that.

JJ: So finally, any last words for the kids?

R: You get what you put into life. I really believe that life should be as much fun as possible as long as you don’t hurt anybody else. That’s my motto. You should try to leave the world at least a little bit better than when you got here. That’s how I see life. I don’t think it’s about all the other reasons people give, or the spiritual, life’s meant to be enjoyed…

I was never too lazy if it meant something to me. For all my laziness talk, I’m only lazy when it comes to things that don’t have any wealth of attraction to me. It’s why I’m putting in the effort with DDP YOGA, I’m putting in the effort because I know what I’m going to get out of it. Same with the hypnosis, the stand-up, I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’m not looking to get to the next level, because I’ve already been to the next level and it doesn’t interest me if I have to work at it anymore. Does that make sense?


More on Raven can be found online at www.theraveneffect.com, while Raven himself can be followed on Twitter via @TheRavenEffect.